We were impressed with the 3.6 litre V6 and 5.7 litre V8 petrol versions of Jeep’s latest Grand Cherokee when we drove them earlier this year, however, we couldn’t help thinking that a diesel engine would be more in step with the times and that a high tech oil burner under the hood would be the icing on the cake.
Our wish has come to fruition, with the Grand Cherokee now offered with the option of an all new VM Motori 3.0 litre, 177kW/550Nm V6 diesel engine. This outstanding powerplant is particularly quiet and fuel-efficient, and with 30Nm more torque than the 5.7 litre V8 we drove back in February, it has plenty of low down pick-up and flexibility throughout the range.
VM Motori has had a long standing engine-supply arrangement with Chrysler, and now that Fiat Powertrain Technologies owns a substantial stake in VM Motori, coupled with Chrysler’s marriage to Fiat, it’s not surprising that Chrysler was first in line to get the new engine. And the first model in the range to receive it is the latest top of the range Grand Cherokee Overland.
With a claimed fuel consumption of 8.3L/100km for the 2,365kg SUV, the new diesel burns almost 2L/100km less fuel than the old one, and is 5.8L/100km more frugal than the 5.7 litre V8 powerplant.
The fully loaded Grand Cherokee Overland ups the ante further from the well-equipped Limited we drove earlier. Ventilated front seats add a cooling function to the already heated front and rear seating, 20 inch alloys, a power lift tailgate and driver-aid and safety features such as adaptive cruise control, blind spot detection and a forward collision warning system are all standard Overland features.
A heated wood and leather steering wheel, power sunroof and plush leather trim with Overland embossed logos, deep tint sunscreen glass and luxury floor mats add further class to the well-appointed cabin.
All the expected multimedia and connectivity features are standard equipment. The Multimedia system offers CD/DVD with MP3/WMA support, a 6.5 inch touch screen, 30GB hard drive with 4,250 song capacity, audio jack, voice command, GPS navigation and Uconnect Bluetooth.
A colour screen reversing camera is standard, as it is on the Limited. While the imagery is large and relatively clear, it isn’t as high a resolution as some we’ve seen and there are no guidelines.
The Overland gets the Full Monty of off-road four wheel drive systems, including Jeep’s Quadra-Trac II setup with a 2 speed transfer case, as well as the Quarda-Lift air suspension system, allowing up to 104mm of lift, depending on requirements.
The Selec-Terrain control provides five electronically selectable settings which can co-ordinate up to twelve powertrain, braking and suspension settings. Sport, Snow, Sand & Mud, Rock and Auto settings can each assist off-road performance, optimising traction and suspension settings depending on the terrain and surface conditions.
On the road, the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland is equally up to the job. There’s minimal body roll for a large SUV, and handling, ride and performance is more akin to a luxury car than a big diesel truck.
Like the 5.7 litre V8, the 3.0 litre V6 diesel is rated at up to 3,500kg for towing purposes.
Priced at $91,990, the Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland CRD competes in luxury SUV territory along with the likes of the Land Rover Discovery, Volkswagen Touareg and Volvo XC60. It offers a level of equipment which can arguably place it a nose ahead of the competition and a refinement, ride and comfort standard that sees it easily hold its own with the others.
While many Jeep buyers may still see old school V8’s as the traditional Jeep powerplant, a few minutes behind the wheel of the VM Motori diesel powered Overland CRD might just change their mind.
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Reviews and comments are the opinion of drivers and do not represent the views of the AA.